(This article first appeared in the December issue of the Anglican Journal.)
This past year, Canadians have seen a wide variety of political messes: scandals, resignations, illegal actions, name-calling, accusations and immature behaviour at the municipal, provincial and federal levels of government. A partial list includes the actions of mayors in Toronto and Montreal, Ontario provincial politicians and, in particular, the Senate.
The people of Canada deserve greater honesty and integrity in our political leaders, and we -as individuals and as a society-need to clarify our expectations of the moral character of our elected officials
It is also important not to tar all politicians with the same brush. A large group of very dedicated women and men have sacrificed many things to serve the common good-some have been featured in the past few months in the Journal’s Anglicans in Public Life series.
The citizens of this country seek people who will provide leadership by upholding what they say they will do, who are prepared to listen and explain and, most importantly, speak honestly and directly to the issues before us. We need members of Parliaments across the land to stop acting like schoolyard bullies when talking to-or, all too often, yelling at-each other. All of us disdain the self-serving posture of “I am always right and you are always wrong.”
It would be naive of us to expect any government at any level to solve all the problems that face it. What we can reasonably expect is that governments will address issues seriously, that there will be honest debate and a working level of co-operation. Political decisions need to be made in the best interest of all, not for the sake of political expediency or to ensure someone’s re-election.
Canadians don’t expect perfection from our political leaders. We are not looking to elect people who never make mistakes or who always have an excuse to offer. Politicians are fallible human beings, and when they fall, churches need to help their members see their political leaders as brothers and sisters in need of prayer and support.
It would be gratifying in 2014 if we were able to see political leadership centred on integrity, justice and honesty, at all levels and in all branches of government; leadership that gives us a sense of pride. It is what Canadians deserve.